Congressmen Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Lee Zeldin (NY-1) today led a bipartisan letter urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) with respect to Qatar’s media outlet Al Jazeera.
The bipartisan letter was signed by Gottheimer, Zeldin, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Congressmen Steve Chabot (OH-1), Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Ron DeSantis (FL-6), Matt Gaetz (FL-1), Louie Gohmert (TX-1), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Darrell Issa (CA-49), Mike Johnson (LA-4), Peter King (NY-2), Ted Poe (TX-2), John Ratcliffe (TX-4), Tom Reed (NY-23), Keith Rothfus (PA-12), David Rouzer (NC-7), Steve Stivers (OH-15), and Tom Suozzi (NY-3).
“For years, Qatar has used its state-controlled propaganda arm, Al Jazeera, to incite violence, glorify terrorist killers as ‘martyrs,’ and broadcast hateful, extremist content. But recent reports that the network’s operatives secretly filmed American nonprofit organizations in Washington show the urgent need for an investigation to determine whether Al Jazeera undertook “political activities” in the U.S. and should register as a foreign agent. Now more than ever, American citizens deserve to know the difference between foreign propaganda and independent media,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer.
“Al Jazeera’s radical anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel content is extraordinarily troubling and must be closely scrutinized to determine whether Al Jazeera is in violation of U.S. law,” said Congressman Zeldin. “As a state-sponsored news organization that favorably covers foreign terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and others, it is critical the United States takes action where laws are being broken and American interests are being undermined.”
The full text of the letter is below:
March 6, 2018
The Honorable Jeff Sessions
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Sessions:
We write regarding the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
On August 17, 2017, the DOJ National Security Division determined that RTTV America, a state-sponsored media organization funded by the Russian government, is obligated to register under the FARA. While we welcome this determination, Congress needs clarification as to whether additional foreign principals should also be required to register under FARA, including Qatar’s Al Jazeera, which the U.S. State Department has indicated is state-controlled.
Founded by state charter in 1996 and headquartered in Doha, the Al Jazeera Media Network maintains an estimated global reach of 310 million people in more than 160 countries, and a presence in U.S. cities including Washington, New York, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles. Its broadcasts are easily accessible, including via social media, and, as stated by the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar in 2009, Al Jazeera is “one of Qatar’s most valuable political and diplomatic tools” and was “used as a chip” to shape Qatar’s relations with other governments.
We find it troubling that the content produced by this network often directly undermines American interests with favorable coverage of U.S. State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria. Furthermore, Al Jazeera’s record of radical anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel broadcasts warrants scrutiny from regulators to determine whether this network is in violation of U.S. law. Such an investigation should cover the full range of activities undertaken by Al Jazeera in the United States, including reports that it infiltrated American 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) nonprofit organizations.
As highlighted by your Department, “the purpose of FARA is to inform the American public of the activities of agents working for foreign principals to influence U.S. Government officials or the American public with reference to the domestic or foreign policies of the United States, or with reference to the political or public interests, policies, or relations of a foreign country or a foreign political party.”
We urge you and the Department to ensure that this law is rigorously enforced and applied fairly and uniformly to protect U.S. national interests from the undue influence of foreign nations. As such, we respectfully request that you provide our offices with detailed information about the DOJ’s investigative process, and whether additional entities, including Al Jazeera, meet the legal definition of “foreign principal” and if so, whether its subsidiaries should be required to register as “foreign agents” under FARA.
American citizens deserve to know whether the information and news media they consume is impartial, or if it is deceptive propaganda pushed by foreign nations.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue. We look forward to your prompt response.